“… so he set the milk down and ran.”

 

In yesterday’s excerpt from Mama’s book, she said, “Times were so hard for everyone.  A man tried to steal a quart of milk off our front porch.  Ruhl chased him so he set the milk down and ran.

There are two things that strike me about that event.

1.  The man was stealing milk … not cigarettes or beer or cake … milk.  That tells me he was definitely stealing to feed his children.

2.  Even though the man must have been desperate for the milk, when he realized Daddy was chasing him, he didn’t destroy the glass bottle of milk by throwing it down so that if he couldn’t have it, Daddy couldn’t either … “he set it down”.  That makes me think he was an otherwise good man who had just become desperate to feed his family.

Yes, the man was wrong to steal and I hope that was a one-time thing, brought on by the stress of trying to provide for a family in such hard times.  But in future years when times got better, if that man told his children and grandchildren about how bad things were during the Depression, and that at one point he became so desperate he even tried to steal a bottle of milk, I hope he also mentioned that “he set the milk down”.   That says alot about the character of the man.

~~~~~~~~~

Mama’s brother Uncle Gene was single and lived with his parents during the Depression, and he worked for a dairy, driving a milk truck to make home deliveries. (Almost everyone had their milk delivered to their door back then.)   But Mama always said that Uncle Gene brought home hardly any money from that job during those hard times, because if a little kid or desperate parent came up to the truck and begged for some milk, he just couldn’t refuse them, so he gave alot of milk away and paid for it himself.

I don’t think Uncle Gene was probably unusual.  There were no government safety nets … no programs to give people at least basic food needs … people truly had to depend on the kindness of others to survive if they couldn’t make it themselves.  I’m sure the thought in the back of everyone’s mind was truly “there but for the grace of God, go I” .  That would certainly bring out the charity in most people.

7 Responses to “… so he set the milk down and ran.”

  1. Linda says:

    I had the same thought when I read your post yesterday. I could see in my mind the desperate man fleeing with the bottle of milk, then carefully setting it down when he recognized the same desperation in the man chasing him. I think you come by your story telling naturally. Your mother seems to have had a gift for it, too.

  2. Mrs4444 says:

    We really looked out for one another back then. These stories are great.

  3. Hilary says:

    Had I read both posts and then commented I would have simply said.. “That’s what I was thinking.” It did jump right out at me and tugged at the heartstrings.

  4. Sandra says:

    Linda — Thank you. I love it that you enjoy her stories too!

    Mrs4444 — They really did, didn’t they? Much more of a sense of community.

    Hilary — This particular sentence has always tugged at me too. And, I remember my mother specifically talking about the fact that the man set it down rather than drop it, so that they were still able to use it.

  5. Amy O says:

    I wish more of “us” could remember some kindness and compassion, not just in times like this but good times. What a gift your Mother gave you with her written family history. To use a cliche, the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to storytelling in your family.

  6. C. Beth says:

    What heartwarming observations!

    I’ve thought in the past that we need fewer government handouts, and lower taxes, and then we will all have more money that we can give to those in need. But I have to wonder, as a society are we (in general) so out of the habit of giving that, even if we had more money, we might not want to give it away? Tough issues….

  7. Sandra says:

    Amy — Well, these times certainly aren’t as bad as the Depression, but I do think any hard times help many people realize their blessings and have sympathy for those not so blessed. Hopefully, that is what is happening this time. You can’t imagine how it touches me to have you and other readers appreciate Mama’s writing. Thank you for your kind words, friend.

    Beth — It is a complicated subject. But, hopefully, charity is not dead. The day it is, God save us all.

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